Conventions are huge, four-day furry gatherings, with plenty of costumes, discussion panels, artists and merchants, dances, games, and friends. For some people, they’re the only place they interact with the furry fandom in person. Like Mardi Gras or Halloween, they’re places that are outside the normal world. At a con, everybody knows you’re a fox, it’s okay to bark or wear paws and a tail, and being a cartoon character is the new normal.
No two cons are exactly the same, but typically they’re two full days of scheduled events on Friday and Saturday, with lower energy levels on Thursday and Sunday. There’s usually discussion panels on art, fursuit construction, fiction, movies, and so on, fursuit-focused events like furry olympics and a parade, space for video games and board games, and plenty of space for vendors and artists. Daytime activities tend to be more family-friendly and inclusive, and the after-dinner crowd tends to be more party-focused, the costume rules less restrictive, the music louder, and the panels and games tend to be more “after dark” subjects with age restrictions.
You can be a furry without ever having gone to a convention. Most of our interactions are on the internet, and there’s a lot more day-to-day stuff happening in the local community (in Austin we have regular hikes, dinners, dances, potlucks, meet-ups…too many for anyone to catch them all!) But for many furries the local convention in their state is the highlight of the furry year, and there’s many major conventions throughout the year. In Austin, the local cons are Furry Fiesta (the big convention in Dallas, usually in February or March), Furry Siesta (a smaller, casual convention in August, also in Dallas), and HavenCon in the spring. HavenCon isn’t actually a furry convention, it’s a GLBTQ gaming and fantasy convention, but it’s definitely on the local furry calendar.
Conventions are special. The really great costumes come out of storage for cons, furries from across the nation and the world turn up, artists you only see on the internet are table-sitting in the Dealer’s Den, if you’re really excited about a specific topic (say, bird characters, or DJing, or werewolf transformation scenes) there’ll be a discussion panel about it, and being surrounded by enthusiastic friends in a safe space is really liberating. The local meetups, the internet chats, and the conventions are all parts of a whole, and they’re all worth participating in!